Do Medicare Supplements Offer a Family Discount?

Many times, I get the question about whether Medicare Supplements offer a family discount or whether a husband and a wife can sign up for a joint Medicare Supplement policy. While all Medicare Supplements are separate policies, many companies do offer a husband-wife discount. This discount can provide a significant savings, when you take out a policy with the same company. So whenever possible, it is recommended that you do so.

Often times, there are several companies around the same price for a standardized Medicare supplement plan. Coverage is the same; however, rates can vary considerably. By choosing the company that offers the husband-wife discount, you can reduce your premiums and ensure that you have the lowest possible price for a plan.

Obtaining the Medicare supplement family discount is easy to do. With most companies you can get it whether you apply at the same time or not. Sometimes, if one spouse is on Medicare and the other is not yet age 65, you should consider which companies may offer a discount that will help you later, when you are comparing and selecting plans.

Some of the prominent companies that do offer a husband-wife discount are Mutual of Omaha, Aetna, CIGNA, and AARP / United Healthcare. All of these companies offer a discount on their standardized Medigap plans that allows you to reduce the premium cost of your plans. The amount of the discount varies, but it can be anywhere from 5% to 12%. It also dependent on your state.

One of the new, exciting things with the household discounts in Medicare Supplements is that you do not have to BOTH be on Medicare with some of the companies. Some of the companies now offer the discount just for being married or living with someone over age 60.

When you are comparing Medicare Supplement plans, you should always get a Medicare Supplement quote from a reputable independent agency. They can give you an idea of all the plans that are available for your age and zip code, as well as what the rates for those particular plans are. From that comparison, you can easily determine which option is going to make the most sense for you, since plans are Federally-standardized (coverage is the same from one company to another).

Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com is a leading, independent brokerage, and we can help provide the Medicare Supplement comparison that you are seeking by email. To obtain this, simply visit Medicare Supplement quotes.

Best Medicare Supplements – What Are the Best Options for Your Age and Zip Code?

The best Medicare Supplement plans are easy to find. Keep in mind that, with Medicare Supplement insurance, plans are standardized, so the “best” plans are the ones that are the least expensive.

The easiest way to find these least expensive plans is to do a medicare supplement comparison. This will show you exactly which plans are competitively-priced for your age and zip code. Many people attempt to include other factors in their comparison of the “best” Medicare Supplements; however, the fact remains that everything except price is equal.

Some things that do NOT help determine which is the best Medicare Supplement are:

  1. Which company “pays better”. The reality is that all companies pay the same. They each pay through the Medicare “crossover” system. This system dictates that all companies pay the same amount for a service/procedure and all pay in a timely manner.
  2. Which supplement is accepted by more doctors. Many people think that, just because they have heard of a company or plan, it means that a doctor is more likely to have heard of it also and thus more likely to accept it. However, with Medicare Supplements, as long as you have a standardized Medicare Supplement plan (i.e. G, F, N, etc.), your doctor/hospital must take the plan if they take Medicare.
  3. Which plan has the most coverage. Again, since plans are standardized, a Plan F with one company is the exact same as a Plan F with another company. So, one company simply does not have more coverage than another.
  4. Which plan has been in business the longest. This also is not a factor in how a company pays, what kind of coverage they offer, etc. With Medicare Supplements, these plans are Federally-standardized so there are not differences from one company to another.
  5. Which plan has the best television commercials. This is, obviously, not important in comparing plans. I just include this to say that you will get swamped with information about Medicare (TV, mail, phone, etc) if you are turning 65 or comparing plans. It is important that you have a good understanding of HOW to compare plans so that when you do compare, you can choose the best Medicare Supplement for you.

So in short, these things above just simply don’t matter. The only thing that matters when comparing Medicare Supplement plans to find the best Medicare Supplements for your age and zip code is price. Ultimately, your monthly premium is the only thing that differentiates one Medicare Supplement from another. If you want to get a rate quote chart that offers a Medicare supplement comparison of the plans available in your area, please contact us on our website or by calling 877.506.3378.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance – How to Compare

Comparing Medicare Supplemental insurance is an easy thing to do. The plans are Federally-standardized, and because of that, each company offers the exact same coverage for “like” plans. To put it simply, one Plan ‘F’ is the exact same as another Plan ‘F’. However, prices can vary a good bit, so it is important to compare prices to make sure that you have the best possible rate for the plan that you want.

If you are already on Medicare A & B with a supplemental insurance plan, you should follow the following steps to compare your plan and rates against other available options to make sure you are not “throwing away” money:

  1. First and foremost, you should do a Medicare supplemental insurance review each and every policy year. Some years this may take 30 seconds – sometimes, it may take a few days of thought (but can save you hundreds of dollars a year).
  2. The easiest way to do this is to use an independent brokerage agency. My agency, Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com, is happy to provide you with an unbiased Medicare Supplement quote, but even if we don’t, we urge you to get a comparison of plans in your area from another independent agent.
  3. Once you have this comparison, you can compare other companies to your current company for a “like” plan. For example, if you have a Plan F now, you can easily compare other Plan F’s to ensure that you would have the same level of coverage. What is the premium difference? Is it significant? It helps to think of it as an annual amount. Are you saving $100 or more a year. Switching is easy to do, and is a matter of signing a few pages. There are no pre-existing conditions restrictions, so the only drawback in switching to a less expensive policy is the 2 minutes it takes to sign your name on the application.
  4. If you are open to looking at other Medicare supplemental insurance coverage levels, you can look at other plans that are different from the plan that you have currently. Plan F is the most common plan, but often, Plan G and Plan N are better values. So, you may want to consider those plans as well, which would offer even greater savings.
  5. No matter how you do it or which plan or company you choose, it is highly important that you do this on at least a bi-annual basis. Medicare Supplemental insurance premiums go up, typically, on an annual basis (policy year not calendar year). Also, new companies and plans are released all the time. Often, their rates are lower than what you have now. In 2009, over 80% of people requesting information on our website were able to reduce their premiums for equal or better coverage. So you must compare and “shop around” to look out for your wallet and ensure that you have the best available option for your Medicare Supplemental insurance coverage.

If you have any questions or want our assistance in comparing your options, you can reach us toll-free at 877.506.3378 or you can request a Medicare Supplemental insurance comparison on our website.

Can I Get Out of My Medicare Advantage Plan?

Many people, once they sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, ask this question. While Medicare Advantage plans seem appealing at the outset, with their lower premiums, there are some definite “disadvantages”. Although they can be the right choice for some people, some of the disadvantages, such as lack of doctor choice, out of pocket costs, and constant plan changes, make these plans frustrating for some. And, when that happens, some people ask the question: “When can I get out of my Medicare Advantage plan?”

The answer to this question is not as simple as you may think it would be. With Medicare Supplement plans and most other types of insurance, you can simply cancel the plan when you no longer want or need it. However, with Medicare Advantage, it’s not that simple. These plans work on a calendar-year basis, so once you’re in, you’re typically in for the year.

That said, Medicare has established a new Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP). This period runs from January 1, 2011 to February 14, 2011. During this period, you can NOT enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan (unless you fall into a special set of circumstances); however, you can disenroll from your current Advantage plan. After disenrolling, you can return to “original” Medicare. Then, you have the option of adding a Medicare Supplement plan to supplement your Medicare coverage.

Medicare Supplement plans, contrary to Medicare Advantage plans which replace Medicare, fill in the “gaps” in Medicare coverage. With Medicare Supplement, you pay the monthly premium; then, if you have the top level plan (Plan F), you don’t have any co-pays, deductible or coinsurance to pay out of your pocket. There are also some new Medicare Supplement plans, including Plan N. Plan N is lower-priced (often similarly priced with some of the Advantage plans) and it is very similar to the more comprehensive plans at the hospital. The difference is that you have a small $20 co-pay at the doctor’s office and a $50 co-pay at the emergency room. Plus, you do have to meet the Medicare Part B deductible, which is $162/year.

If you have questions about this new Medicare Advantage disenrollment period or want to evaluate what options are available to you if/when you DO leave your Advantage plan, I recommend (whether it’s us or someone else) speaking to an independent brokerage. They can explain the ramifications of whatever choices you are considering, to ensure that you make the choice that is right for you. You can contact us at 877.506.3378 or at Medicare Supplement quote.

Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplemental Plan N – A Great Alternative to Being Declined Coverage

Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement Plan N is a “Guaranteed Issue” plan. What this means is that they offer this plan on a no health questions asked basis to all who apply. This is one of the few plans offered like this, nationwide. In some states, there are special times of the year or other special circumstances that allow everyone an open enrollment period with no health questions asked.

But, generally speaking, you do have to qualify medically when you sign up for a Medicare supplement plan. In the case of Mutual of Omaha’s Plan N, though, this is not the case.

This has truly been a benefit for those who have been previously unable to get coverage. Those who have health problems ongoing or have a history of health problems generally get declined by Medicare Supplement plans, when they apply. This allows them an option, in which they will not get declined.

Plan N is a new Medicare Supplement plan – it began on June 1, 2010. It has been successful as an appealing plan to those who are losing, or leaving, Medicare Advantage plans, which have encountered significant cuts for 2011, in most areas. Plan N does have a $20 doctor’s office co-pay, as well as a $50 emergency room co-pay. Additionally, it does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible of $162/year. That said, it still covers the 20% not covered by Medicare at the hospital so that, between Medicare and your supplement plan, you have little to no cost for hospital visits, or stays.

We believe Plan N, which is offered at an even lower price point than other supplement plans, is a great alternative to those who cannot get other coverage, have been declined or are simply paying too much for an overpriced Plan F. Plan N allows significant premium savings (as much as 50-60% lower than Plan F prices) while still giving you the hospital coverage and doctor flexibility that you need from your supplement plan.

If you want a customized quote, or if we can assist in providing additional Plan N information, please let us know. You can reach us at toll-free 877.506.3378 or request a Medicare Supplement quote. Alternatively, you can visit our Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement page for more information about this company and their plans.

Medigap Plan N – The Optimal Alternative to Medicare Advantage

Many Medicare Advantage plans are not offering coverage for 2011. What this means is that many Medicare-eligible seniors are being forced to face tough decisions about replacing their Medicare Advantage plans. It also means, however, that they are “Guaranteed Issue” into some Medigap plans. This gives them an opportunity to move to the stability and flexibility of the Medigap program and easily get out of the floundering Medicare Advantage programs.

The Medigap plan that most closely resembles what one might be used to with Medicare Advantage is the Plan N. Plan N is a new Medigap plan that combines the stability and flexibility of Medigap coverage with the low premiums and minimal co-pays that are a part of Advantage plans. Here are some details about Plan N, if you aren’t already familiar with it:

  • With Plan N, you can go to any doctor that takes Medicare. There are no networks or referrals needed.
  • Plan N covers the 20% that Medicare doesn’t cover at the hospital.
  • Plan N has a $20 doctor’s office co-pay and a $50 emergency room co-pay.
  • Plan N DOES cover the Medicare Part A deductible of $1,100. It DOES NOT cover the Medicare Part B deductible of $155/year.
  • Plan N is, in some cases, “guaranteed issue”. This means that you can get this plan without having to answer medical questions or go through medical underwriting.

Plan N is certainly a reasonable option for those on Medicare who wish to (or have to) replace their Medicare Advantage plans for 2011. Plan N is a viable alternative that allows you to return to “original” Medicare A & B and have a supplement that’s designed to go with Medicare and fill in the majority of the gaps in Medicare A & B.

To get a Medigap Plan N quote for your age and zip code, or to get quotes on all supplement plans in your area, please visit Medigap Plan N quotes or call us at 877.506.3378.

PARTS of Medicare vs. Medigap PLANS – Understanding the Difference

One of the most confusing (to most people) things about turning-65 is understanding the terminology. More specifically, there are “parts” (of Medicare) and “plans” (Medigap). Many people get these confused and it can lead to making decisions that are not to your advantage.

Parts of Medicare

There are four parts of Medicare. Medicare Part A is the part that covers hospital and inpatient services. You get this automatically from paying into the Medicare system during your working life. Medicare Part B is the part of Medicare that covers doctor’s office and outpatient services (like labwork, etc.). You must sign up for Part B in order to have this part of Medicare. There is a $110.50/month premium for this that is generally paid through a Social Security deduction.

Medicare Part C is an optional part of Medicare that is also known as Medicare Advantage. If you wish to stay with “original” Medicare (Medicare Parts A & B), you do NOT need to sign up for Part C. In fact, if you sign up for ‘C’, all of your coverage is provided through the private Part C company and Parts A & B no longer provide your benefits.

Medicare Part D is the prescription drugs part of Medicare. This part of Medicare is also optional and provided through private companies. In order to have prescription drug coverage, you must sign up for Part D. You can do this by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or through an independent agent.

Plans – Medigap

Medigap plans are also named by letters, which is the source of most people’s confusion. The plans are standardized and each company is required to offer the plans from the standardized plans chart. This chart goes from “A” to “N”. You should select a plan that meets your needs from a reputable company with low rates. You can view the full chart here that shows what the standardized plans cover: Standardized Plans Chart

If you have any specific questions, or if we can help in any way, please do not hesitate to reply to this email or contact us toll-free at 877.506.3378. Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com is a leading, independent Medicare Insurance agency. Because we are an independent agency, we work as a centralized place to compare all plan options, ask questions, and make unbiased decisions.

FOUR COMMON MYTHS ABOUT MEDICARE / MEDIGAP PLANS

In talking to hundreds of folks each week who are on Medicare from around the country, we hear some pretty “wild” things. Whether given the wrong information by news media, an unscrupulous or misinformed agent, or just assuming something to be true that is not, there is a lot of misinformation about Medicare and Medigap plans. Here are a few we’ve heard recently that fall on the “MYTH” side of the TRUTH vs. MYTH divide.

  1. You can only change Medigap plans once a year, during the end-of-year enrollment period.
    This, as many of you already know, is false. Medigap plans have NO enrollment/disenrollment restrictions. The reason many people believe this is twofold. One, there IS an enrollment period for Part D prescription drug plans, which runs from November 15-December 31 each year. Also, there is an onslaught of marketing (mailings, TV ads, etc) for Medicare Advantage plans during the end-of-year enrollment period because you can only change those plans from Nov. 15-March 31. For Medigap plans, however, you can change at any time, as long as you meet a company’s underwriting requirements (which vary from company to company).
  2. Company ‘X’ pays it’s claims better than Company ‘Y’.
    Medigap claims are paid through Medicare’s national “crossover” system, which is handled directly through Medicare. This is an automated process that does not at all resemble the way that traditional health insurance (under-65) claims are paid. I have NEVER had a complaint or problem with a company not paying a claim due to this standardization of plans and automation of the system. Even if a company were to completely go out of business, claims are backed up by the state insurance reserve programs.
  3. Some of my doctors do not take certain Medigap plans.
    With Medigap plans, all doctors that take Medicare are required to take Medigap plans. What some doctors do not take, and are not taking in increasing numbers, is the Medicare Advantage plans. However, with a Medigap plan, you can see any doctor/hopsital nationwide that takes Medicare.
  4. Company ‘X’s rates do not go up over time – they stay the same.
    This is something that many agents use in a dishonest way. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. While this would certainly make our job easier, it’s just not true. Medigap insurance, just like auto insurance or the price of eggs, goes up over time. Different companies use different criteria to change rates, but there are not any plans that do not go up in price over time.

Medicare and Medicare Supplement Insurance in 2011 – What We Know & What We Don’t Know

It’s hard to think of Jan. 1 when it’s 95+ degrees outside, like it has been in most parts of the country the last month. However, it is August and 2011 will be here before you know it. I anticipate there to be several changes with Medicare and Medicare insurance in 2011. Some of which were in place before the health insurance reform act, some of which are offshoots of the act itself. Here’s a brief look at what we do know and what we don’t know so far:

What We Do Know

  • Medigap coverage is not changing on 1/1/11. Your coverage will never change, unless you willingly change it. The plans are standardized and the same from company to company.
  • Medicare Advantage plans will be required, in 2011 and on, to have a network in place. In other words, PFFS plans, which is what most of the plans have been in the past, will be extinct. Those companies that do PFFS plans will offer the same plans through a network (PPO or HMO-type plan) OR they will cease offering those plans altogether.
  • Several major Medicare Advantage companies will not be participating any longer in the program (i.e. CIGNA) and others will operate in far fewer counties. People in plans that are not renewing have a special enrollment period that starts October 1. They can choose a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan without having to qualify medically or worry about pre-existing conditions.
  • As a side result of these non-renewing plans, there will be thousands upon thousands of Medicare-eligible individuals having to find new coverage at one time. I expect this to cause an influx of people onto the more stable Medigap plans, which will in turn cause slow turnaround times for Medicare and the companies themselves. In short, if you are one of these people who is losing a plan or are re-evaluating your drug coverage, getting started in October is highly advisable.
  • Medicare Part D is projected to have a smaller, yet to be determined, ‘donut hole’. Over the next 10 years, this ‘donut hole’ is supposed to be closed completely.

What We Don’t Know

  • We don’t know what the fate will be of all the Medicare Advantage companies yet. They are still in the process of filing plans, getting them approved, etc.
  • We don’t know what Part D plans will cover/not cover for next year. Their plans typically aren’t released until mid-October for the Nov. 15 start date.

Sometimes, new Medigap companies/rates come out around the first of the year; however, the information hasn’t been released yet. We will certainly keep you posted on it, as it is released, however, if/when new plans come out.

Medicare Supplement Plans – Three Little-Known Ways to Save Money

Many people are talking about saving money these days. It is a primary topic of discussion. Prices for some things seem set in stone, though, as if there is no way to reduce your costs. Most seniors assume that Medicare Supplement plans fall into the “set in stone” category; however, that is not necessarily the case, as there are several significant ways to save money on your Medigap plans.

Below, we have listed three way to save money on your Medigap insurance that many people may not recognize or know about:

  1. Household (husband-wife) Discount – This is probably the easiest way to save money – to have the same plan as your spouse. Not all companies offer this, but the majority of competitively-priced companies do. It is an incentive to keep all of your business (both you and your spouse) with the same company. If you ARE with the same company and are NOT receiving this discount, you should ask your current company about it – or, possibly, find a new company that would be less expensive and/or offer this discount.
  2. Payment Mode Discount – Companies handle this is different ways. Many are less expensive when you pay monthly by bank draft; however, some are still less expensive if you pay annually or semi-annually. Regardless, this is something to look into.
  3. Early Enrollment Discount – A few companies offer an early enrollment discount for those who enroll in their plan within a certain time period after turning 65. This discount usually is reduced over time; however, when enrolling at or near age 65, the discount can make one company’s rates better than another.

Keep in mind that the actual rate for Medicare Supplement plans is set. One agent or broker cannot offer a better rate than another. However, these company-offered discounts can affect the rates a good bit and make rates with one company more competitive than another.

If you are not getting all, or any, of these discounts and you feel like you should qualify, we recommend comparing your coverage to see if there is another company that offers the discounts and would be more advantageous to you financially.

Garrett recommends that you look into these three ways to save money on your Medicare Supplement plan. Even if it doesn’t work out for you, and you are not able to save any money, you don’t have anything to lose. Best case scenario, you find several ways to reduce your premium with either your current company or with another, more advantageous company.